Placing components in the KiCad 6 PCB editor is fairly easy in a broad sense. If you have your grid set correctly, and enough space, getting things roughly in place and connected is fairly trivial. However, what if you need to place a number of footprints in a line, or need to make a grid of vias? Placing each one individually can be tedious, so for these tasks use the align, distribute, and array commands to save a massive amount of time and frustration!
Depending on your level of electronics knowledge, work, and/or experimentation, a voltmeter may be sufficient for your diagnostic needs. However, being able to see the way an electronic signal changes over time, or perhaps even multiple signals, takes your analysis capabilities to a whole new level.
This September (2022), Arduino announced that its much anticipated 2.0 IDE has been moved to stable and is available for download. New features include the ability to use the serial monitor and plotter simultaneously, quicker compilation, auto-complete, and a number of other enhancements that make it a huge improvement overall.
The Raspberry Pi RP2040 microcontroller, along with the Pico dev board, and the Pico W (WiFi), have taken the maker world by storm since its original introduction in early 2021. And for good reason, as at $4 for the Pico, $6 for the ‘W, and around a dollar for the chip itself, this 133MHz Arm Cortex-M0+ processor based device is quite an interesting piece of hardware.
Perhaps you remember the early voice synthesizers of the 1980s, which “spoke” in a muffled, marginally intelligible tone. Audio data storage was based on a linear predictive coding (LPC) format, and played back with a voice synthesis processor (VSP).
Printed circuit boards are, at their most basic, a way to arrange conductors that travel between solder-mounted parts. At the same time, they’re extremely strong sections of precision-cut and coated fiberglass, that could have structural uses as well.
If you’re looking for a great way to get started with the ESP32, the Wemos/LOLIN S2 mini is an excellent option. It comes in a form factor compatible with the ESP8266-based Wemos/LOLIN D1 mini, and the S2 mini can thus work with D2 mini shields. Ground, Vbus, and 3V3 pins are in the same place, though the IO pin numbering is different, so any swaps would certainly require a bit of reprogramming for proper functionality.
Today we’re required to use a password for everything from Google, to PlayStation, to Costco, and any number of other websites and services in-between. Using one password for everything is a serious vulnerability, and keeping multiple passwords written down on a notecard, or as a plain text file on your computer are both problematic. Even dedicated online password keepers can be hacked.
As you probably know, Raspberry Pi single-board computers, especially Pi 4 models, can get quite hot. While passive cooling options are often good enough to avoid overheating and thermal throttling, at some point you’ll need to think about using a cooling fan. The Raspberry Pi’s GPIO pins don’t supply enough current to power even a small fan, but there are several ways to power and control a fan with the Pi.
The vast majority of computer control is done by hand, using a keyboard, mouse, or touchscreen, but what about your feet? They’re perfectly capable of tapping out a signal, but generally sit unused when at a computer. In my latest experiment, I set out to see if common spring-loaded foot pedals would work as a computer interface, perhaps for controlling shift, control, or other modifier keys. Short answer: yes, it can work. There are, however, a few complications.
As a PCB design becomes more involved, managing complexity becomes ever more important to the process. Last month’s article about using hierarchical sheets presents an excellent tool for organizing schematics. This is helpful, but at the end of the day these theoretical connections must be transferred to the PCB layout editor for on-screen routing, and ultimately physical manufacturing. To help simplify physical routing, consider how components will be arranged when designing your schematic.
For simple KiCad circuit designs, a sheet with lines going from one component to another is good enough. Add in net labels, and slightly more complicated drawings can be cleaned up nicely. At some point, however, your design may become too large to fit onto a standard sheet. You’re faced with a choice: expand the sheet to cover more area–useful, but often clumsy–or break schematic data up into a series of linked hierarchical sheets.
Some time ago, I wrote an article about panelization basics, mostly focusing on “mouse bites” as the panel separation technique. The other way to separate boards is using a technique called v-scoring. The basics of this technique are shown in the Royal Circuit Solutions video below, which is meant to selectively weaken a PCB for separation at a later point.
QR codes applied to a printed circuit boards are a great way to reference documentation, a store, or wherever other info is needed for a situation. Adding on to your PCB is quite simple using KiCad, as outlined in this article.
Printed circuit boards are amazing devices, able to zip electrons from component to component with the greatest of ease. Consider, however, that PCBs are extremely tough, and can be manufactured accurately and inexpensively, to be delivered in a few days.
When you design a small run of boards for fabrication, it’s extremely likely that the PCB manufacturer will place it in a panel for manufacturing with a number of other designs. This “panelization” allows for boards to be made for low prices, since board space can be efficiently shared between orders.
I’m currently just over halfway through fulfillment on the JC Pro Macro 2 keypad kickstarter project. 178 people pledged with the expectation of a reward, meaning that putting a bit of time and thought into my fulfillment workspace at the beginning was an excellent use of time and resources.
In this guide, I’ll take you through how to set up a Raspberry Pi from a blank SD card and how to turn on GPIO pins remotely via a terminal. I’m using the MacOS terminal, but other programs, such as PuTTY should work just as well.
The concept of a “printed circuit board” is often thought of as a 2-dimensional entity, whether through EDA software like KiCad, or simply looking at a bare board–that is indeed significantly wider than it is tall. That being said, these boards, as anyone who has worked with them knows, consist of layers.